Solar Energy in Southeastern Ohio

by Emily Baird on October 6, 2010 at 3:19 am

A $250 million advanced energy project is coming to Southeastern Ohio. Once completed, it’s expected to be one of the largest solar farms in the country.

"The future has recognized Ohio," says Governor Ted Strickland.

It’s been in the works for a little more than a year. Governor Strickland, 18th district US Congressman Zack Space, and others announced the creation of Turning Point Solar. It would be an almost 50 mega watt solar farm, which would be built on 500 acres of strip-mined land adjacent to The Wilds.

AEP Ohio is investing $20 million into the creation of 250 solar panels, and these solar panels are expected to produce enough energy to power 25,000 homes.

"Ohio uses a lot of energy, we should produce a lot of energy. In producing that energy, we should be creating jobs and embracing the growing new industries," says Strickland.

The project is supposed to create up to 700 Ohio jobs, 300 in construction and 300 in permanent manufacturing. Two Spanish solar power manufacturers, Prius and Isofoton will help with that goal. They plan to each build a manufacturing factory somewhere in the state in the next couple years.

There’s been a line of communication among these two companies, Hocking College, and Zane State College.

"We want to talk about what needs to be included in the curriculum to help them prepare the workers they need to work in those factories. They’re very good paying jobs. So, we really want to prepare our students for that," says Dr. Paul Brown, President of Zane State College.

The Department of Labor is giving Zane State College a $3 million grant to help buy solar panels, wind turbines, and other equipment needed to train students. It will also help supply the staff needed for these sustainable agriculture programs. Brown and others feel this will only improve the region’s image not only to the rest of the country but the world.

"This is going to have nothing but a snowball effect on jobs, tourism, and our tech, Zane State out there, " says Muskingum County Commissioner John Bates.

"This is a transformational day for the people in our region. In 25, 30, 50 years from now, we’ll look back on this day and say this is where it started, " says Space.

Construction of the solar farm is expected to start in early 2012, with power up and running by the end of that year.